San Benito County Sheriff Sergeant Kelly Burbank always knew he would serve in the military. He grew up with a family history of men who've served, his father served in the Navy during Vietnam, his grandfather served in the army during WWII and his great grandfather served in the army during WWI.
"My family history did play a part in my decision to enlist… I always wanted to be a soldier and knew it was something I was going to do when I graduated high school," Burbank said.
His dream would become a reality as Burbank would go on to enlist in the army his senior year at Watsonville High School. Shortly after his high school graduation he was sent to Fort Benning in Georgia, for basic training, infantry school, and airborne school.
Following his graduation from basic training, he was assigned to the 101st Airborne 502 Infantry regiment at Fort Campbell in Kentucky and was later deployed to Iraq for combat operations, Desert Shield and Desert Storm, also known as the Gulf War.
While he remembers both the good and bad experiences he had, it was really the brotherhood he built with his fellow soldiers that he cherishes most.
"We had some really great times, and some not so great times, but we were all in it together and shared the experience," he said. "Those were some times that I will never forget, and that helped shape me into who I am today," he said.
After being discharged from the military he began working on his career path toward law enforcement.
"I put myself through the police academy and eventually got hired as a police officer for the city of Coachella in Riverside County, CA. I worked there for a couple of years, and transferred to the Hollister area where I began working for the Hollister Police Department," he said.
Burbank has over 20 years of law enforcement experience. He's worked as a field training officer (FTO), K-9 handler, narcotics investigator, and a firearms instructor. He continues to serve his community today as a patrol Sergeant for the San Benito County Sheriff's Office.
"I have always had a calling to help others, and give back," he said.
This Veterans Day, which also happens to be Burbank's birthday, his wife Nereyda Burbank surprised him with a paver that will be unveiled at the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia.
"He continues to serve and help others," she said. "He served his country and now his community."
"It's very thoughtful of my wife, and a total surprise. I am excited to revisit where I started my military training at, and just excited to be back and be able to share this moment with my wife," Burbank said. "This is my first time being back, and my first time ever visiting the National Infantry Museum which opened in 2009. The paver is something I am proud that my children can visit and see some day."
All proceeds go to the National Infantry Museum Foundation which benefits the museum’s mission to educate the public about the cost of freedom. Heritage Walk pavers are unveiled at dedication ceremonies every Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Burbank told BenitoLink he would like to thank "all the men and women who have served and continue to serve, fighting to make this the best country that it is! God bless!"